Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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I Was the Vixen’s Designated Kit-Sitter

dave ellis.vixen and kitsDave Ellis photo

I had found the den of a family of red foxes and was going early each morning to take pictures of the mother and her young kits. The kits were five or six weeks old, and were at that curious, exploring stage. Their life at that point pretty much consisted of eat, sleep, and play.

The father did not seem to be around, so the vixen had a lot of work to keep her four kits fed and safe. She was not stupid. She soon figured out that she could make use of me. She had to spend several hours each day off in the woods hunting in order to keep the little ones fed, which meant that without a father around, she would have to leave them alone and subject to being found by other predators.

A Brush With a Fox

fox and mouse.doug piferIllustration by Doug Pifer

The late Matthew Mackay-Smith—internationally renowned veterinarian, editor of EQUUS magazine, foxhunter, and elite endurance rider—began foxhunting at the age of eight behind his late father, Alexander Mackay-Smith (ex-MFH, author, and longtime editor of The Chronicle of the Horse). Matthew left a treasure trove of hunt reports and countryside observations which, thanks to the permission of Matthew’s wife, Winkie, FHL will publish from time to time.

In my veterinary rounds in the country of Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds (PA), I often took a shortcut by using West Road, a primitive gravel lane with grass between the tire tracks. There, on a blustery March afternoon, I spied a feminine fox upwind of me, nonchalantly toting half a rabbit. In the gloaming, she was heading toward her den with the family supper. I stopped. She stopped, too, but oblivious of me. She was maybe fifty feet away.

Why The Eastern Coyote Merits Separate Species Status

how the eastern coyote or coywolf differs from the western coyoteThe eastern Coyote or coywolf is larger and has a thicker body, shorter muzzle, and shorter ears than the western coyote.

Jonathan Way, a research scientist at Clark University in Massachusetts, makes a case for renaming the eastern coyote that populates the northeastern U.S. He sees it as a separate species of canid.

Way argues that the so-called eastern coyote looks unlike the western variety, exhibiting characteristics of coyotes, wolves, and dogs. There is a current debate among scientists as to what to call this creature.

Red Fox Hunting In Snow

fox and mouse.doug piferDoug Pifer illustration, courtesy of the Pennsylvania Game Commission

Several inches of snow blanketed the ground when I went to the barn to feed the animals. Snow stuck to every branch, stem, and twig, but my eye caught a glimpse of movement in the buffer of trees along the stream. Ducking behind the barn to avoid detection, I glimpsed a red fox about to spring into the air and pounce on a mouse.

Hunting Secrets Revealed!

fox and moon2.blingeeFor any huntsman, staff member, or field member, wouldn’t it be helpful to know the specific time intervals on any given day when the fox or coyote is most likely to be afoot? And when it is most likely to be lying up? These times vary each day according not only to the phases of the moon, but are influenced also by how closely the moon rise and moon set correspond to the times of the sunrise and sunset in your particular hunting country.

Wouldn’t it be helpful also to know which specific days of the month you will experience average, good, or best conditions and the recommended time intervals for hunting on those days? There is a fascinating resource on the web that many sportsmen and women—hunters and anglers—use to advantage.

Epp Wilson, MFH and huntsman of the Belle Meade Hunt (GA), refers to this calendar regularly. “The game table predictions are more accurate than not in our experience,” says Epp.